1. What is glaucoma?
2. What causes glaucoma?
3. What are the symptoms of glaucoma?
4. Who is at risk for developing glaucoma?
5. Is glaucoma curable?
6. How is glaucoma treated?
7. Is there any way to prevent glaucoma?
8. Are there different kinds of glaucoma?
9. What does it mean when the doctor says that my “pressures are high?”
10. Can I have LASIK if I have glaucoma?
Glaucoma is a disease in which increased pressure causes damage to the optic nerve, leading to progressive, irreversible vision loss.
Since many different things can be classified as glaucoma, it’s hard to state exactly what causes it. The general definition of glaucoma is a buildup of pressure inside the eye, which is caused by a problem in the drainage canal that prevents essential fluid from being able to drain.
Symptoms of open angle glaucoma:
- Mild aching in the eyes
- Gradual loss of peripheral vision (the top, sides and bottom areas of vision)
- Seeing halos around lights
- Reduced visual acuity (especially at night, that is not correctable with glasses)
Symptoms of narrow angle glaucoma:
- Inflammation and pain
- Pressure over the eye
- Moderate pupil dilation that's non-reactive to light
- Cloudy cornea
- Blurring and decreased visual acuity
- Extreme sensitivity to light
- Seeing halos around lights
- Nausea and/or vomiting
Glaucoma can occur in people of all races and at any age. However, the likelihood of developing glaucoma increases if you:
- Are African American
- Have a relative with glaucoma
- Are diabetic
- Are very nearsighted
- Are over 35 years of age
Glaucoma is not curable, and vision loss cannot be regained. However, with the proper treatment it is possible to halt further loss of vision caused by glaucoma. Since open-angle glaucoma is a chronic condition, it must be monitored for life.
The goal of glaucoma treatment is to lower the pressure in the eye to a level where damage will not occur. At this time, it is not possible to recover any vision that has been lost. There are three main ways of lowering pressure in an eye. In most people, the first treatment is with medication, usually in the form of eye drops. If eye drops are inadequate or ineffective then laser treatment may be tried. Finally, if medications and laser treatments are inadequate, surgical treatment may be used.
It is unclear if there is a way to prevent glaucoma, however, you might be able to reduce your risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Scheduling routine eye exams will also increase your chances of discovering glaucoma in its early stages should you develop it in one or both eyes.
There are several different kinds of glaucoma, but most of them can be placed into two categories: Open Angle Glaucoma and Narrow Angle Glaucoma. While there are multiple subtypes for each of these categories, the treatments for various open angle glaucomas tend to be similar and the treatments for various angle closure glaucomas tend to be similar.
The eye is like a ball, and it must have a certain amount of pressure inside to keep it inflated. If the pressure is too low it doesn’t work well, and if the pressure is too high it may cause damage to the vision. This is what we call glaucoma. However, different people can tolerate different levels of pressure. Just because your pressure is high does not mean that damage will occur.
Patients being treated for glaucoma are typically not good candidates for LASIK.